After Hurricane Harvey hit, churches in Texas provided relief and shelter to people affected, and some of the buildings were damaged.
Like other non-profits, they in turn want reimbursement from the taxpayer-funded Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
FEMA, which does provide funds to religiously affiliated organizations, doesn’t provide aid to churches to repair sanctuaries.
Three churches filed a lawsuit and asked a judge to order FEMA to change its policy.
But the issue could end up moot.
Churches in Texas should be entitled to reimbursement from FEMA Relief Funds for helping victims of Hurricane Harvey (just like others).
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 9, 2017
The Trump administration is considering changing the rules. From the Daily Caller (emphasis added):
FEMA can give grants to institutions affiliated with churches, like schools and hospitals, and does sometimes provide funds for the repair of church facilities, but only if less than 50 percent of said facilities are used for religious activities. While FEMA has authorized $113 million in aid given to religious affiliated facilities over the past 5 years, none of that money has gone to houses of worship despite their use as emergency shelters.
Several other houses of worship damaged by hurricanes added their voices of support. The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston and Congregation Torah Vachesed, which received no aid after being flooded by Harvey, filed amicus briefs on behalf of the three churches, with Congregation Torah Vachesed claiming that the “pernicious effect of FEMA’s policy of explicit discrimination” was “to deter and discourage the exercise of the Jewish faith.”